Massachusetts, like all other states, has created their own car seat laws to ensure that children who are on the road will be safe. Parents and guardians traveling with children need to not only understand, but also follow these laws. Doing so will keep children safe when they are on the road and will help parents avoid problems with the law.
Since every state has slightly different laws, anyone traveling to Massachusetts needs to make sure that they understand what the Massachusetts car seat laws are so that they can follow them.
What the Law Says
The Massachusetts Car Seat Laws for 2020 are very clear about when children need to be restrained. This law states that children who are between five and seven years old must be secured with a passenger restraint. These children do not need to be secured with a restraint if they are at least 4’9” tall.
Additionally, the law says that all children who are under eight years old and shorter than 57” need to be secured with a proper restraint. Additionally, this restraint must be installed correctly, according to the manufacturer, for it to be legal and to offer the necessary protection to the child.
The law also states that children who are between 8 and 12 years old have to be secured with a safety belt when they are in a vehicle.
What to Know About Booster Seat Safety
Booster seats, when used correctly, reduce the injury rate of children who are between four and eight years old in an accident by 60%. The leading cause of death for children between four and eight years old is a car accident, which is why using a booster seat that is properly fitted and inserted into the car is so important.
When a child is too large for their forward facing seat, then they must be secured in a proper booster seat. The lap belt needs to fit on the hips of the child, not up on their stomach, when they are in a booster seat. Additionally, the shoulder belt should fit on the chest, not across the neck.
When the booster seat is installed in the vehicle, parents or guardians need to make sure to follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer.
Anyone who has problems installing a child safety seat or simply wants to make sure that they installed it correctly can get help from a professional. Child Passenger Safety technicians can be reached at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health by calling 1-800-227-7233. These technicians are certified and can help any parent or guardian who is struggling with a car safety seat or booster seat.
The Seat Belt Law and Applicable Fines
When in Massachusetts, all vehicle operators who are in control of a vanpool vehicle, a passenger motor vehicle, or a truck that weighs under 18,000 pound must use a safety belt. Additionally, the safety belt must be properly fastened and secured.
If drivers are not wearing their seat belt, then they will receive a fine of $25.
Drivers can also be fined if they have any passengers under the age of 16 in the vehicle who are not properly restrained. This means that children must be in car or booster seats, and older passengers must be properly restrained with a seat belt. Drivers will be fined $25 for every person under 16 in the car who is not properly restrained.
Exceptions to the Seat Belt Laws
Of course, there are some exceptions to the Massachusetts Seat Belt Law, and understanding them can help drivers avoid problems. Vehicles from before July 6, 1966 are not subject to these laws, nor are USPS vehicles when at work or rural letter carriers when at work. Authorized emergency vehicles are not subject to these laws, and drivers who have vehicles over 18,000 pounds are also exempt.
Children who are under 12 years old are subject to child passenger safety law. Finally, passengers who have a medical reason that certifies them as unable to wear a safety belt aren’t subject to this law. These passengers can be children or adults, but they must have a certified medical reason that is verifiable to avoid fines related to not wearing the proper restraint.
Designed to keep children and all other passengers as safe as possible when on the road, the Massachusetts Seat Belt and Car Seat Laws are easy to understand and to apply in any situation. Since there are certified professionals who can help any parent or guardian who is struggling to correctly set up or attach a car or booster seat in their vehicle, there is no excuse for not using the proper restraint with a child. The proper restraint can greatly decrease the chance of injury or death in an accident, which is why it’s so important for all drivers and passengers to wear them.